Local Navy lab cleared to test for Zika virus

Posted at 6:29 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-21 21:29:21-04

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) in Point Loma to test samples for the Zika virus.

The NHRC is one of six laboratories in California which were authorized to perform the test called the Trioplex Real-time RT-PCR Assay (Trioplex rRT-PCR).

"Having the ability to test for Zika virus means that we can support expediting the diagnosis of this dangerous disease," said Dr. Christopher Myers, department head for biosurveillance at NHRC.

Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Forrest Faison said prevention is your best bet.

"Avoid unnecessary travel to affected countries," he said.

Service members are in the business of travelling. Last month, the military revealed the virus latched onto two military members -- one in Colombia and another in Brazil.

Faison urges military members to use mosquito nets and use bug spray. They can also specially treat uniforms.

Faison also advised service members about their sexual activity, as well as how affected men can expose others through sex.

"If you're a man and have traveled in an affected area … please practice safe sex," he added.

It is especially important with pregnant women, experts said, as the virus can cause babies to be born with abnormally small heads.